Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Family under Siege

Our nation's history is steeped in a rich tradition of family. It is from family that children receive a sense of roots, learn self-discipline, and acquire moral values: essential elements in developing healthy self-esteem. Strong homes build strong children and in turn, a strong community. But, in America, the family has taken a beating.

For centuries, divorce was seen in most cultures as a public statement of failure, an avenue of last resort. Marriage vows were taken seriously, and laws often required divorcing couples with children to present compelling cause for dissolving a marriage. Many struggling marriages remained intact "for the sake of the kids."

The breakdown of the nuclear family is a major cause of the increase in juvenile problems. Seventy percent of juvenile offenders come from single-parent homes. The majority of children in gangs com from abusive family situations or from homes which do not have a significant male role model.

Another change families have undergone over the past decades has been an exodus of mothers from the home. The number of working mothers tripled. "Never in the history of the world have so many children been raised by strangers." Some women wishing to pursue a career, have chosen to join the work force voluntarily.

Discussions of the benefits of stay-at-home moms invariably raise protest from feminists, who quickly point to full-time motherhood as instituted male domination. They create a perception that full-time child rearing is somehow stifling and unfulfilling, a choice no woman in her right mind would make willingly.

The younger the child is when he enters day care, the greater the potential harm. This is especially true in regular day-care centers, where children receive little physical affection. After twenty years of research in this area, educational psychologist doctor White is convinced that children should spend most of their waking hours with a full-time parent or other loving relative during their first three years of life.

For so many American families, however, this is not an option. (B. Scott, Children No More)


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